Credits: Dave ThomasToronto Sun/QMI Agency
TORONTO -- Ontario public servants with options to retire early -- including teachers who typically pack it in at age 59 -- should be asked to work longer to close a $100-billion pension funding gap, PC Leader Tim Hudak says.
"Public sector pension liabilities are really the ticking time bomb when it comes to government finances in the province," Hudak warned Monday. "Typically, government pensions give workers about 70% of their best five years in retirement. And that means today that you could have 11,000 different government workers making over $100,000 a year on pensions in retirement.
"When it comes to teachers, for example, they can retire at 55 years of age and get a pension well over $60,000 a year .. that's $15,000 more than the average taxpayer makes," Hudak said.
Premier Kathleen Wynne, whose government inked a deal with the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan (OTPP) last week to freeze taxpayer contributions for five years, said the former Tory government created the early retirement option for teachers.
"The irony is a little thick," Wynne said.
Hudak argued that the Ontario Liberals are in the "pockets" of public sector unions, and will do nothing to address a $100-billion gap between promised pension benefits and available funds.
The PCs believe that public sector pensions should look more like those in the private sector, which tend to be less generous, he said.
Workers in the public sector often have the option of retiring early, and in the case of teachers could draw a pension for more years than worked, he said.
Hudak appeared to favour a proposal that would see the province attempt to negotiate higher retirement ages, and if unsuccessful, legislate changes.
"But definitely the retirement age has to go higher in government workers," Hudak said.
The Liberal government is taking steps to ensure that public plans remain viable, but is also working to improve retirement benefits for all Ontarians, Wynne said.
"The broader issue is to make sure that all of the people of Ontario have the prospect of a reasonable retirement," she said.
The Wynne government announced an agreement Friday to freeze taxpayers' annual contribution to the OTPP at $850 million a year for five years.
Three years ago, the government's share was $250 million.